When Ju Jingyi, a Chinese actress and former member of SNH48, drew attention to the trend of Chinese tourists wearing Thai student uniforms by posting herself wearing one on her Weibo account, Thai news outlets and netizens paid close attention.
Apart from the tourism opportunities cited by the Education Ministry and Tourism Authority of Thailand, some internet users noted that while foreign tourists are happily donning the uniforms, some Thai students, including the Bad Student movement, are protesting against their mandatory use.
The school uniform trend is aligned with the cosplay culture in China, where wearing school uniforms, particularly Japanese ones, is prevalent, said Pagon Gatchalee, lecturer in marketing at the Chiang Mai University Business School.
He added the Thai school uniform trend is currently smaller than the Japanese school uniform trend. It actually peaked in late 2012, when the film Lost in Thailand was screening in China.
Mr Pagon also said the Chinese might simply find Thai school uniforms different from their own, which could explain their interest.
While the public has reacted positively to the trend, some experts have raised legal concerns about non-students wearing the uniform as a fashion statement.
Lawyer Rachapon Sirisakorn warned against wearing student uniforms with a logo or abbreviation of the school’s name, as that may breach the Student Uniform Act 2008, which carries a fine of up to 1,000 baht.
According to Mr Pagon, some Chinese tourists believe that countries have different laws that must be followed, while others wonder why it has been made illegal.
In contrast to Thailand, Japanese uniforms are often worn by others as a fashion statement without any consequences.
Despite the mixed reactions to this from the Chinese, Mr Pagon maintains that "this is a good opportunity for Thailand to promote tourism, trade, and awareness of the country".
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SEC2 | 12 March 2023 - 15:15:02